Historical buildings create unique homes for local businesses
Historical buildings throughout the Williamsport area have become homes to myriad local business owners. Many of these buildings have had necessary renovations done over the years, while reserving original characteristics that tell a story about the area’s history.
Shulze Mansion is home to flower shop and wedding venue, Nevills Flowers. Finished in 1836, the Montoursville home was once owned by the sixth governor of Pennsylvania, Gov. John Andrew Shulze. “Forever, we will be part of history, having the Shulze name attached to this. …It’s really kind of amazing to think. …Everywhere you look, each time you see something that makes you think of the history. …I mean, you think of all the people in the dances and whatever they would have had in here for 200 years,” said Melissa Iseley, owner of Nevills Flowers. The spacious, nearly 200-year-old home also has a backyard, fitted for banquets, parties, professional events and intimate gatherings. Iseley has dedicated time and resources into refurnishing the home to resemble the original state, collecting some of the original decor from the house. “It’s kind of a combination of modern venue and historic.
…Most of the stuff has been updated to venue quality. …I’ve been trying to collect some of the pieces back, to bring it back to the house where it belongs. …Little stuff that you see you kind of mention to somebody, if you’re ever going to get rid of that, let me know, and I’d be glad to buy it back and try to bring some of the history back to the house,” said Iseley.
Like many older homes, Shulze mansion has had renovations done to fit the needs of the current owners. Some of these changes included new windows, a new boiler system and new water heaters. Although these renovations were necessary, original characteristics throughout the house were preserved. “(There are) original 200-year-old hardwood floors, fireplaces in every room,” she said. Another building in the area with great historic significance, known as Park Place, has had a number of different owners and renovations since it was built in 1865.
Formerly known as the Herdic House Hotel, the Victorian-era build ing was built during the Civil War, as it was meant to be a first-class hotel for travelers. “It’s as modern as any new building that just happens to be an old body,” said Anothony Visco, owner of Anthony H. Visco Jr. Architect. The building is located within the City of Williamsport’s Millionaires Row Historic District and now includes a number of offices for local businesses. In the year 2000, Visco was one of three local businessmen who worked on renovating the building, making necessary modern updates while also returning some of its original detail. “There is something to say of doing renovations in an existing old building to update and modernize to a reasonable degree.
You don’t have to tear everything down. ….It’s pretty simple. …There’s a lot of stories to be told. And, you know, like anything else, I mean, I think that’s a very important element to maintain. Knowing where we came from, how we got here, for better or worse,” said Visco. The Ritz Complex in Muncy, now a combination juice bar and sports complex, has had many renovations done to fit the vision of the current owners. Built as a movie theater, the building still holds much of its original historic details. “We did a lot of remodeling, so we took a lot of the stuff that people remembered out…
We preserved a lot of the woodwork and things like that. … I think a lot of people grew up with the movie theater here. So they’re familiar with the area,” said owner of The Ritz, Royce Eyer. The building is now split into two main parts, the juice bar cafe and the sportsplex, which includes a large batting cage. “Specifically, we demoed the entire floor because it actually had an angle with seats. And so it wasn’t usable. So we actually demoed the entire floor and then filled it, leveled it with concrete. That was a big project,” said Eyer. The sports complex space is often rented out for events such as birthday parties.